Biz News: Ex-Prime Now drivers in Irvine warehouse sue Amazon

A group of former drivers in the Irvine warehouse for the new Amazon Prime Now delivery service have filed suit against the company, alleging they were denied overtime pay, workers' compensation and mileage reimbursements.

The workers say they were improperly classified as independent contractors instead of employees.

The Prime Now service, which launched in Southern California in September, promises one- and two-hour home delivery of goods such as groceries and electronics.

Lawyers are seeking class-action status in the suit, which was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Amazon and Scoobeez, its contracted courier service. The four named plaintiffs allege they were classified as independent contractors even though Amazon set their schedules and controlled virtually all aspects of their work.

"Plaintiffs cannot reject work assignments, nor can they request that their deliveries be restricted to a particular geographic area," the lawsuit states. "Plaintiffs who do not follow defendants' rules or instructions are subject to discipline up to and including termination."

Though drivers are paid $11 an hour, the suit claims that many are actually receiving less than California's $9 minimum wage after factoring in expenses such as gas, tolls and maintenance.

"These are people who are in no way, shape or form in business for themselves," said Beth Ross, the lead attorney in the lawsuit. "They're people who interviewed for a job, were hired for that job and show up to an Amazon warehouse every day."

Amazon and Scoobeez did not respond to requests for comment.

—Los Angeles Times

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Toshiba launches Clippers-themed photo app

Before the Los Angeles Clippers' home opener Thursday night at Staples Center, Irvine-based Toshiba America Business Solutions unveiled its new augmented reality app, PictureMe, which enables fans to take photos with true-to-life images of team players such as Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.

The app projects a digital image of the selected player in the user's mobile device to create a photo opportunity. After snapping photos, fans can share the pictures on social media or upload them on LA Interactive's array of high-definition displays.

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Cost Plus World Market to open Irvine location

Cost Plus World Market plans to open a new location in The Marketplace in Irvine on Thursday.

The store's ribbon cutting is scheduled for 9 a.m. at 13682 Jamboree Road. The first 100 shoppers will receive a free reusable World Market tote bag. The store also will host a twice-daily raffle for a $250 World Market gift card through the opening weekend.

World Market, which operates 273 stores nationwide, offers casual home decor and furnishings, gifts, jewelry, gourmet foods, wines and other beverages.

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Microsemi to open innovation lab at UC Irvine

UC Irvine and Microsemi, an Aliso Viejo-based provider of semiconductor products, will hold a grand opening Tuesday for the Microsemi Innovation Lab in the UCI Calit2 building.

The lab will offer technology and strategic guidance from Microsemi Chief Technology Officer Jim Aralis to aid conceptual design, prototyping, integration and validation of student and faculty innovations.

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St. Joseph Health, hospital affiliates paying $2.7 million in federal settlement

Irvine-based St. Joseph Health is among 457 medical groups and hospitals nationwide paying a total of $250 million in settlements related to cardiac devices that were implanted in Medicare patients in violation of Medicare coverage requirements, the U.S. Justice Department said Friday.

St. Joseph Health and 10 affiliated hospitals are paying a total of $2.7 million, the Justice Department said.

Most of the settling defendants were named in a whistleblower lawsuit filed in federal court in Florida by a cardiac nurse and a health-care reimbursement consultant.

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North Italia restaurant to host job fair for potential employees

Fox Restaurant Concepts is hiring for North Italia in Irvine, the company's newest restaurant and first in Orange County.

The Italian eatery will host a job fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 9-21 at 2957 Michelson Drive, at the intersection of Jamboree Road. North Italia is looking for more than 230 employees, including servers, hosts, pastry cooks, line cooks, back servers, dishwashers, pizza cooks and bartenders. Applicants also can go online at workfornorthitalia.com.

The 6,094-square-foot space features an expo kitchen that overlooks the dining room, plus an 1,800-square-foot patio.

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Brookfield announces new neighborhood for Irvine's Portola Springs

Brookfield Residential has announced plans for a new-home collection in Irvine's Portola Springs village. Legado will feature single-family detached and paired courtyard homes with three- and four-bedroom designs in Spanish, Santa Barbara and Monterey architecture.

The homes, priced from the $800,000s, will offer options including solar packages, home theater systems and outdoor rooms with glass doors.

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Airport Self Storage signs on as U-Haul dealer

U-Haul of California has announced that Airport Self Storage has signed on as a U-Haul neighborhood dealer to serve Newport Beach.

Airport Self Storage at 3760 Campus Drive will offer U-Haul trucks, support rentals and boxes.

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TestAmerica names new director of Irvine laboratory

Environmental testing firm TestAmerica has named Linda Scharpenberg as the new laboratory director for its Irvine facility.

Scharpenberg, who received her doctorate in organizational leadership from Chapman University, joins TestAmerica from Eurofins Calscience and brings more than 21 years' experience to the job.

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